A clunkingly fatuous fairy tale for Christmas
Once upon a time, in a land far away, there were villages where the villagers were told by the king to look after some valuable possessions of other people, and though they tried hard to protect these items, they had limited money with which to do so.
Most villagers did everything they could to protect these precious items, but sometimes the village elders overlooked the risks, or decided to spend some of the villages’ meagre earnings on other important things. And sometimes some of the stupid villagers took risks, or other villagers, thought they were not stupid, still took stupid risks. This all meant that, just sometimes, the valuable items got lost, or given to the wrong people, or maybe even stolen.
The Sheriff of the Land was a good and strong man, and he too was worried about these precious items. He encouraged village elders to tell him when something happened to the items. When he thought the villages had really been bad, or unwise, he would fine them, and so they had even less money. And the villages would try very hard to improve, and they would listen to all the Sheriff’s edicts, and try to do what was right.
Most people in the Land, and in the villages themselves, accepted this: they knew that it was important that the sheriff showed everyone he was strong, and wouldn’t tolerate loss of or risk to the precious items.
However, in the towns, there were people who had also been asked by the king to look after others’ valuable possessions. Some of these people were very irresponsible, and they often lost the items, or had them stolen, and, what was worse, they wouldn’t confess this to the sheriff. And even though the sheriff knew about this, he mostly allowed the lawlessness to continue, because it was so rife, and because some of the townspeople were very powerful.
And so it was that the villagers found it hard to bear when the Sheriff issued public proclamations that said how badly they – even those in villages which had never done anything wrong – protected the precious items. They found it especially hard to bear because it was their own precious items which were being treated with so little care in the Outlaw Towns.
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said yesterday:
“We are fast approaching two million pounds worth of monetary penalties issued to UK councils for breaching the Data Protection Act, with nineteen councils failing to have the most straightforward of procedures in place
“It would be far too easy to consider these breaches as simple human error. The reality is that they are caused by councils treating sensitive personal data in the same routine way they would deal with more general correspondence. Far too often in these cases, the councils do not appear to have acknowledged that the data they are handling is about real people, and often the more vulnerable members of society.
“The distress that these incidents would have caused to the people involved is obvious. The penalties we have issued will be of little solace to them, but we do hope it will stop other people having to endure similar distress by sending out a clear message that this type of approach to personal data will not be tolerated.
“There is clearly an underlying problem with data protection in local government and we will be meeting with stakeholders from across the sector to discuss how we can support them in addressing these problems.”